Crosby, Malkin, Toews, Fleury, Letang and Keith make the top six in All-Star voting

Week after week, we followed the fan voting for the 2011 NHL All-Star Game. In case you haven’t been keeping up, fans were able to pick their equivalent to a First NHL All-Star team with three forwards, two defensemen and one goalie. The league just announced the roster, which is comprised solely of Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks players. Here is the top six.

Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Evgeni Malkin.

Defensemen: Kris Letang and Duncan Keith.

Goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury.

(In case you’re wondering, my ballot last night looked like this:

Forwards: Crosby, Steven Stamkos and Brad Richards.

Defensemen: Dustin Byfuglien and Nicklas Lidstrom.

Goalie: Tim Thomas.)

Here are some details regarding the voting results.

At the close of the 2011 NHL All-Star Fan Balloting presented by XM at 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, more than 14.3 million total votes were registered.  Crosby was the top-voted player with 635,509 total votes and first forward named to the 2011 All-Star Team; Chicago’s Toews tallied 407,676 total votes and Crosby’s Pittsburgh teammate Malkin tallied 376,887 to round out the top three forwards.  Pittsburgh’s Letang was the top-voted defenseman with 477,960 total votes; he will be joined by fellow defenseman Duncan Keith of Chicago who received 382,162 votes.  Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury is the first goaltender named to the 2011 All-Star team with a total of 462,305 votes.

On January 11, the league will announce the remaining 36 players that will make up the NHL All-Star teams. After that, the team captains will be unveiled as well (along with alternate captains). Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville will be one of the coaches by default because he won the Stanley Cup in the 2010 playoffs. There will also be Western and Eastern Conference “co-coaches,” which will be determined by standings positions.

As you may remember, the two team captains will choose players based on a “fantasy draft” that might remind some people of their gym class days in which two kids chose teams. (Something tells me the last person chosen won’t resemble Martin Starr from Freaks & Geeks, though.) Here are some details regarding the fantasy draft process.

A coin toss will decide first pick with the team captains, joined by their two alternate captains, alternately drafting the 36 remaining All-Stars through 18 rounds.  Each team will consist of 3 goalies, 6 defensemen and 12 forwards total.  For sake of fairness in the draft, the captain and alternate captains for each team will consist of two forwards and one defenseman.  Also, to ensure that the final draft picks are true selections and not simply predetermined due to position requirements, each team’s three goalies must be picked by the end of Round 10 and each team’s six defensemen must be picked by the conclusion of Round 15.

All-Star weekend will take place on Saturday, January 29th and Sunday, January 30th. To read more about the beloved skills competition and other festivities, click here. We’ll keep you informed as the full roster(s) are released and so on.

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    Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

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    The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

    For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

    The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch when they failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

    New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

    This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

    The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

    Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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    There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fan, maybe.

    On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

    The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

    In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

    The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

    Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong regular seasons, even as memories of their Cup win start to fade into the distance. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

    The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

    Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

    Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

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    Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to defend Craig Anderson following his blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

    It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

    Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

    Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

    You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.

    It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

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    When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some sad endings.

    It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

    After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

    Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

    EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

    “Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

    Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here: